How to Use Holiday Closings to Your School’s Flooring Advantage
By Terry Bessire, Vice President
With students and teachers away for an extended break, the holidays are a great time to spruce up school facilities flooring.
In our 30 years of working with everything from K-12 to large universities, we’ve found that the winter break is a popular time for taking care of flooring projects without impacting classroom work or the flow of people through hallways. Historically, we do a tremendous amount of flooring work over the winter break at our local universities and schools. This year, with COVID-19 creating even longer classroom breaks for many schools, the window of opportunity is even greater for schools to maximize that time to complete flooring projects.
If you are looking to use the winter break to ensure your school’s floors are in optimum condition, here are some things to consider.
Why Schedule Flooring Projects During the Holidays?
With your buildings unoccupied or at lower staffing levels, flooring installation personnel can get more done in a faster time. Construction cycles typically go into holiday mode during this time allowing access to more installation personnel.
In addition, scheduling can be done based on installation needs and not limited by client staffing hours. There’s no need to wait until after 5 pm or work only on Saturdays and Sundays. Empty parking lots/garages mean easier access to parking and buildings for crews, equipment and materials. And, with continued concerns over maintaining social distance, working in unoccupied buildings makes it easier to maintain a safe work site, with less non-construction personnel on site.\
Planning Ahead for Your Flooring Project is Critical.
If you are considering tackling flooring maintenance or upgrades during the winter break, it’s important to plan those far in advance. Why? First, some installation companies use this time for employee vacations. In addition, most flooring manufacturers close for the holidays so your contractor will need to order materials well in advance. And, just as consumers are seeing slower shipping turnaround times, so goes shipping for flooring materials. It’s important to plan early, order early and ship early.
What Flooring Projects Can Be Done over the Holidays?
Generally, students and staff are off-site from mid-December to mid-January. That provides ample time to focus on maintenance, repairs and upgrades. Among the projects we often work on for our education clients over the holidays are:
Now more than ever, maintaining a healthy environment requires removing the dust and debris that collects on your floor. Did you know that for every 1,000 visitors – students, staff, visitors – to your school, approximately 26 pounds of dirt is tracked in each month? That means that, even though you may have done a thorough carpet cleaning before the start of the school year, your carpets are now home to significant dirt. Many of our education facility clients use the holidays for a mid-season deep cleaning to remove the dirt that can create airborne dust and potential upper respiratory issues.
Carpet/flooring repairs and replacement
Even though our installation crews can work after hours to minimize impact to students, replacing or repairing carpet during the school year is not ideal. The time constraints of evening or weekend work limit project size or create the need for numerous spread out phases. The best time to undertake those projects is when school facilities are unoccupied. Not only do we avoid disrupting school operations, but flooring crews also can more easily social distance and work faster.
Resilient flooring strip and waxing
Vinyl composition tile is the most common resilient floor used in schools. It is durable, cost-effective and easily maintained. Even though the finish on resilient flooring is durable, it still must periodically be stripped and waxed. Depending on the usage, a resilient floor might need to be stripped and waxed once or twice a year. That makes the holidays a perfect time to schedule this routine maintenance with zero impact to your students and staff.
Any building, old or new, can be susceptible to mold. Building leaks at roofing, windows, exterior doorways, plumbing issues, or even concrete slabs can allow moisture into the building interior. Unchecked, these leaks can eventually create an environment where mold can thrive.
In addition to mold, asbestos is another potential health hazard. The use of asbestos in flooring and flooring adhesives was discontinued in the 1980s but many older buildings still contain many common building materials that were manufactured with asbestos. In addition to flooring, asbestos can be found in ceilings, insulation, drywall mud, and miscellaneous adhesives. Left undisturbed, asbestos-containing materials will not release fibers into the air.
In any renovation where hazardous materials will be removed or disturbed, the process can be time consuming. Notices have to be made with state agencies in advance, renovation areas have to be placed in containment, and access to the containment areas is strictly for those performing the abatement work.
The holiday break is an ideal time for health and safety personnel at your facility to inspect for mold or asbestos materials and perform any maintenance required.
Other Tips for a Smooth Holiday Flooring Project
- Designate a staff contact. Be sure you have designated staff contacts with whom your project manager can coordinate when unforeseen issues arise.
- Provide access to the job site. Your flooring project manager will need keys and access codes to get into buildings, or have staff available to provide access.
- Maintain building utilities. The flooring project team will need lights, HVAC and water to complete their work. If your buildings are programmed to go into unoccupied settings during the holidays, make arrangements in advance to reconfigure those settings.
The winter holiday break is a great time to spruce up your school’s floors. For successful projects, the key is to work with an experienced flooring installation company to identify your needs early and schedule them well in advance. With a little advance planning, your staff and students will return to beautiful, clean floors and a healthier building environment.
Learn more about Intertech’s education project experience.
Terry Bessire is vice president of Austin operations and one of Intertech Commercial Flooring’s original founding employees. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.